We already named our top 20 TV shows for 2013, but even that doesn't begin to cover all the TV we loved this year. Some series that didn't make the final cut delivered some pretty stellar episodes, too.
Here, we're focusing on the shows that didn't make our top 20 (so no "Breaking Bad" or "Game of Thrones" here), and picking out 15 must-watch episodes from this calendar year that also helped make all that time we spent on the couch worthwhile.
1. "The Good Wife," "Hitting the Fan"
The very apt title of the episode only begins to describe what an intense hour of television this was. Alicia and Cary’s plan to leave Lockhart/Gardner and take top clients with them was exposed, and led to explosive confrontations with Will and Diane. Then it was full-on war as the senior partners worked furiously to cut the new firm down. “Hitting the Fan” was a thrill ride from start to finish, and changed the course of “The Good Wife” forever. — Kelly Woo
2. “Justified," "Decoy”
One of the still-underappreciated drama’s best episodes ever, “Decoy” pitted Raylan and the marshals against Boyd and the Detroit mob, who desperately wanted to get their hands on Drew Thompson, who Raylan and company were transporting to jail. The unexpected hero of the adventure: Harlan constable Bob Sweeney (Patton Oswalt), who craftily dealt with one of the mob henchmen and came up with the idea to get Drew safely out of town. We will forever be bummed that Oswalt did not win an Emmy for the role, though Bob did earn Raylan’s respect as “a tough son of a b---h.” — Kimberly Potts
3. "The Mindy Project," "Triathlon"
Fox's goofy rom-com was frustratingly inconsistent this year, but its highs rank right up there with any comedy on TV. A prime example: "Triathlon," with nurse Morgan defecting to the accursed midwives, Mindy training for a triathlon with a water bottle full of sangria and humiliating herself in front of a room of Sunday school children, and (best of all) Danny hilariously getting a deep lower-body stretch from midwife Brendan DeLaurier. It's gems like this that keep us coming back to "Mindy," despite all its flaws. — Dave Nemetz
4. "Switched at Birth," "Uprising"
SWITCHED AT BIRTH - "Uprising" - In an all-new episode of "Switched at Birth" told entirely in American Sign Language …
The ABC Family hit series has never been quiet about teaching understanding and tolerance, but this episode — done in silence, with all dialogue in sign language — took its message one step further. Daphne, Bay, and classmates at their deaf school came together to protest the school's closing for budgetary reasons, but arguments among them broke out, not the least of which was whether or not to accept hearing students like Bay. The result was a jumping-off point for real-life conversations about discrimination. "It's not just relating to deaf kids," show creator Lizzy Weiss told the Los Angeles Times when the episode aired in March. "It should be a very universal story." — Breanne L. Heldman
5. "Person of Interest," "The Crossing"
There are a lot of shows out there killing big characters these days, but if you want to know how to do it right, watch "Person of Interest." They teased a death, then paid it off with a bigger one; they introduced new characters earlier in the season to ease the loss; and the death resolved a major series-spanning story arc. Textbook perfect. — Robert Chan
6. "Glee," "The Quarterback"
Cory Monteith died in July. Finn Hudson died sometime after. And Lea Michele broke your heart in October when she sang (in the guise of Rachel Berry) "Make You Feel My Love" in this perfect, perfectly sad tribute. — Joal Ryan
7. "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award"
Nine seasons in, the "Sunny" writers proved they still have gas left in the tank with this meta masterpiece, spinning the fact that they're completely ignored by the Emmys into comedy gold. The Paddy's Pub gang got tired of not winning any local bar awards, so they visited a cheery, brightly-lit rival bar named Sudz (a savage parody of multi-camera network comedies) and tried (and failed) to imitate their crowd-pleasing ways. They should submit this one to the Emmys, if only for the sweet irony. — DN
8. “Boardwalk Empire," “Farewell Daddy Blues”
The strongest season of HBO’s gangster drama ended with perhaps its best episode to date. In “Farewell Daddy Blues,” nearly everyone hit bottom: Narcisse and Chalky’s war left both men as losers, Gillian was convicted of murder, Eli betrayed his brother and killed a fed, and Nucky’s position is more vulnerable than ever. But the saddest end belonged to Richard Harrow, whose face finally became whole… only in his death. — KW
9. "Bob's Burgers," "Turkey in a Can"
Holiday episodes require a delicate balance of comedic mayhem with sentimentality, and no show on TV does that better than "Bob's Burgers." Bob went to increasingly insane lengths to have a perfect Thanksgiving while someone in the family was trying to sabotage him. Who can't identify with *that* around the holidays? — RC
10. "Catfish: The TV Show," "Lauren & Derek"
You guys, love can exist on the Internet! Lauren and Derek first met on MySpace eight years ago, and had never met in real life or even video-chatted when Nev and Max stepped in to bring them together. While Lauren felt strongly that Derek was the man of her dreams, no one could have predicted the outcome of this episode: She was right! Not only was Derek exactly who he said he was, but he also became her fiancé. He popped the question during the season finale reunion special… and, yeah, we swooned. — BLH
11. "The Newsroom," "Red Team III"
Aaron Sorkin's preachy HBO drama is at its best when it drops all the smug speechifying and takes us inside the nitty-gritty of how cable news is made. That's why we loved this episode, which delved into News Night's report on Operation Genoa, an alleged U.S. massacre of Pakistani civilians that ultimately turned out to be false. Smart, compelling, and the best episode since the pilot, "Red Team III" is the kind of storytelling "The Newsroom" should be doing every week, not once a season. — DN
12. “Archer," “Fugue and Riffs”
Season 4 opened with the show at its most clever, riffing on its characters and actors. Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) had amnesia, and thought he was family man and restaurateur Bob Belcher, owner of “Bob’s Burgers” (the other show on which Benjamin is the lead voice actor). Everything started to go back to normal (relatively) once “Bob” revealed he inexplicably had the abilities to wipe out an entire KGB team sent to kill Archer. But the real payoff was the revelation of what sparked Sterling’s state: The mama’s boy was upset that his mother Malory (Jessica Walter) had married car dealer Ron Cadillac (Walter's real-life husband, Ron Leibman). — KP
13. “Rectify," “Drip, Drip”
The lyrical and haunting Sundance series began by focusing on Daniel Holden’s attempt to return to normal life after 19 years on death row. But “Drip, Drip” probed deeper into Daniel’s soul when he embarked on a strange trip with a mysterious stranger that involves stealing goats and wrestling in the grass. It felt like a religious journey for Daniel, which ended fittingly with his baptism. What once was lost, now is found. — KW
14. "Girls," "One Man's Trash"
In this fantastically entertaining and polarizing episode (written by star Lena Dunham), Hannah got a taste of a lavish, loving life, courtesy of "Dr. Josh" (Patrick Wilson). The dramatic theme of experiencing the (possibly) unattainable was obstructed by viewers who stormed the Internet to protest the pairing of human Hannah with a stereotypically "hot" doctor. One thing we can all agree upon: Naked ping-pong inspires intense debates about sexual attraction. — Caroline Kepnes
15. “Dallas," "J.R.’s Masterpiece"
Brenda Strong and Patrick Duffy in the 'Dallas' Season 2 episode, 'J.R.'s Masterpiece.'
This fitting send-off to legendary character J.R. Ewing and legendary actor Larry Hagman hit all the right notes, from guest appearances by J.R.’s black sheep brother Gary, half-bro Ray Krebbs, former loves Cally and Mandy, and real-world Dallas notables Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones at J.R.’s funeral, to the “Who Killed J.R.?” homage mystery the episode kicked off. It also provided longtime “Dallas” stars (and Hagman BFFs) Patrick Duffy as Bobby and Linda Gray as Sue Ellen the chance to say their goodbyes to the actor and the character, leaving not a single “Dallas” fan dry-eyed. — KP
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